Monday, April 6, 2009

Hi Everyone!

Want to Grow Winter Vegetables?
It's growing season - here's much local news:
Our garden is breaking ground at the end of the month. Marc and Tim have chosen a specific heritage crop for the kids to focus on - it's exciting!! And the 1st cob oven is close to done - we'll be doing the sculptural coat next! We want to make the next one at our garden, and keep making them.

Please check with Eliza Buck at the Agricultural Resources Committee (ARC) / SJI Conservation District if you have land you want to keep as open space that you'd be interested in having farmed - or if you are looking for land to farm.
(See info at the right and at the very bottom of this page.) And look at this ARC/Cons. District page ( and this one, ) to see a sample of what the ARC offers.

Think about being a farmer. This morning we just got this note from longtime Waldron farmer (and another of our wonderful Youth Club advisors) Margaret Thorson:

"Hi Linda et al,
After yesterday's last winter farmers market of this season I issued this challenge to everyone on the farmers market and ag guild mailing list. I know that there are Slow Food members on that list but wanted to especially share this challenge with your group:

Today ended the 7th winter farmers market season. Joel and I sold most of our non leek vegetables by 10:20. Between us and the other two Waldron farms we had come up with some salad mix, half a box of carrots, a few napini buds and some spinach (besides 75# of leeks). But obviously we had a lot of disappointed customers who wanted something other than leeks.

We've been doing this for 7 years now and we have been the primary source of whatever winter vegetables have been available for all those years. This was a particularly bad year due to the weather and we are raising this stuff in a fairly wet and cold site. Half of our kale varieties froze out and most of the chard is gone. Or you can say that half of our kale varieties survived and we have a few chard plants that if they survive to make seed will become the parents of our own strain of survivor chard.

We can't continue to do this basically alone. There is so much talk about a permanent site which would include place for an indoor winter market. But if you all want that we can't continue to have just us providing the bulk of the vegetables.

So this is my challenge.
Next April I don't want to be the only table there with vegetables on it. If we can do it so can you. If we want a real market presence on San Juan Island we have to create it ourselves by getting out there an growing stuff. If each of the growers who sell at the market had had half a box of
carrots and a dozen bags of salad or green, 8 or 12 bunches of napini, etc., etc., we would have had a lot fewer disappointed customers. And if we want a real farmers market in a permanent site we can't keep having disappointed customers and you all can't keep depending on the Waldron farmers to form the bulk of the growers.

Winter gardening is just a different learning challenge for a grower. Joel and I have been doing it for years, for ourselves long before we decided to see if we could do it commercially. The customer base is there. We are glad to help out with advice, with recommendations of varieties that have worked for us, etc. Call us,, email us, come by our booth and talk to us. But if every grower grew a bed of winter carrots, and beets, and parsnips, grew more storage onions and squash, tried a bunch of different varieties of kale to see what works on your place, we would
have a vibrant winter market all winter.

The time to start is now, getting seeds of winter vegetables, planning where to plant them so they can go into the ground in June and July and not be in the way of summer crops, etc. There is a big push to get things in in the summer but in the winter there is no weeding and watering.

So assure me that we won't be alone next winter. And let's also consider that Joel and I won't be doing this forever and if you want a functional market you will have to create it. and now is the time to start.

Margaret Thorson
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien"
(Links added by SF Land & Sea.)
(Photos courtesy of Margaret and Joel)
Margaret and Joel's farm is Thousand Flower; contact info is to the
right on links. Margaret also has a great blog. Check it out!